Collaborating with Other Brands to Reduce Environmental Impacts
We make products for the outdoors, to be enjoyed in the outdoors. And it’s important that these products have the least impact possible on the places where we use them. We’re committed to reducing—and perhaps one day eliminating—environmental harms.
Timberland believes in the power of transparency. We want consumers to hold companies accountable for the way they do business. So in 2006, we introduced our “nutrition label”, the first of its kind for the retail industry. It communicates information about where a product was manufactured, how it was produced and its impact on the environment. In 2007, we took the nutrition label concept a step further and introduced the Green Index® score to report product-specific environmental impacts. The Green Index® environmental rating helps our product design and development team make material and production choices that have smaller impacts. It also provides consumers with information which that inform their purchasing decisions. We consider the Green Index® rating system a starting point on the path to increased sustainability and transparency. All Timberland footwear will be labeled by 2012.
But simply putting a label on our own products doesn’t give consumers the information they need to compare our footwear with other brands’ products. Collaboration is needed for common environmental understanding of products’ impacts across our industry.
One way we’re doing that is by partnering with other brands through the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA). A subset of that organization, the Eco-Working Group (EWG), is working to develop the Eco Index™, the industry’s first standardized environmental assessment tool for measuring the impacts of all outdoor products (things like boots, clothing, tents, and more). This groundbreaking tool allows companies and suppliers to evaluate impacts in six key areas of a product’s lifecycle: Materials, Packaging, Product Manufacturing and Assembly, Transport and Distribution, Use of Service, and End of Life.
According to Betsy Blaisdell, senior manager of environmental stewardship for Timberland, “We knew we needed a commitment from the entire industry. Collaboration is integral for creating an industry-wide standard to measure and incentivize sustainable innovation. We applaud the launch of the OIA Eco Index™ as a positive step in the right direction.”
Another example of cross-brand collaboration is the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, an collaboration of apparel brands and retailers like Wal-mart, Target, Kohl’s, H&M, Gap, and others who are adopting the Eco Index™ and tailoring it to the apparel industry. Eventually, the coalition hopes to develop a ratings system geared towards consumers.
Timberland is just one company in a big marketplace. Collaborating with other brands can help us be as effective as possible in making the changes that are necessary to preserve our planet. We hope that more brands will join us in creating consumer-facing communication that compares environmental impacts. Collaborating in this way provides consumers with clear and consistent information about the environmental attributes of our products, so they can ask questions—and make informed decisions.